10 Uncommon Small Dog Breeds You Haven’t Heard Of

These petite pooches might no be well-known, but they have a lot to offer.

Most of us recognize the popular Poodle, Chihuahua, and Yorkie, but what about the rarer dog breeds weighing less than 25 pounds or so? Now keep in mind that small doesn’t always correlate to super-chill lap dog companion. Some were developed small for specific working purposes, such as capturing birds in rock crevices. Some are feisty, exceptionally agile, or precocious. And finding many of these breeds may be challenging since they’re so rare. But who can resist the fascinating stories of the Singer, Bolonka, or Bedlington? Here we go.


Biewer Terrier Norwegian Lundehund 


  1. Russian Tsvetnaya Bolonka: (colored lapdog) weighs between 6 and 9 pounds. Ancestors came over with Napoleon’s army, but the modern Bolonka was developed during the Communist Regime. Large Russian working dogs weren’t practical in crowded apartment spaces, but working traits were valued, so the Bolonka was bred for size, companionship, and to alert his owners of newcomers. Today the breed’s coat has many colors, but originally black was dominant; a dark coat showed less dirt when water and shampoo were scarce. Still a rare breed, the Bolonka is clever, social, now and then a dancer, and often a skilled mimic. Generally easy going with children and other animals, they match nicely with families. If they appear disheveled, it’s because of their wavy or curly coat; hopefully there’s plenty of water and shampoo now for maintenance! 
  2. Norwegian Lendehund: Weighing about 15 pounds, the rare, Norwegian Lundehund has some equally rare features developed to help him hunt Puffin birds. He has at least 6 toes on each foot for extra foothold and support, and he can literally close his ears to protect against dirt. He can bend his head backwards over his shoulders, which probably helped him reverse out of narrow passages. And he can stretch his front legs out to the sides, helping him with balance. Today’s Lundehund is cheerful, inquisitive, and friendly, but he’s also stubborn and independent. He also shows a strong prey drive, a propensity to bark, and a tendency to store and hide food. The Lundehund can be challenging to train, unless persuaded with plenty of rewards. A socialized Lundehund plays nicely with the family’s other dogs and children, but probably won’t put up with the family’s “Polly Wants a Cracker,” feathered friends.
  3. Bedlington Terrier: weighing between 17 and 23 pounds, may look like a lamb, but he’s both lamb and lion-hearted. This Terrier was developed for stamina and courage, not cuddles and snuggles (although today he’ll take those too!). Bred to hunt rabbits, rats, badgers, and even otter without missing a step, the Bedlington is opinionated, inquisitive, playful, and affectionate with his loved ones. Although they’re tough in the field, most are gentle at home, and often willing playmates to the family’s children. And while they’re okay with other family dogs, the Bedlington may frown at unknown dogs.
  4. New Guinea Singing Dog: Generally weighing about 25 pounds, was developed in the highlands of New Guinea many centuries ago, separate from man’s control. A remarkable hunter, the NGSD moves fluidly, climbing and jumping more like a cat than a dog. The Singer is renowned for his complicated vocals, including whines, howls, and yelps. Active, lively, and alert, the NGSD has a strong hunting drive. Although he shows affection with people he knows, he’s typically suspicious of strangers, and often aggressive toward (especially same sex) other dogs. While trainable to some degree, he’s too primitive for most families to handle. That’s code for “he may like you, but he won’t hang on your every word or try desperately to please you.”
  5. Mudi: Weighs between 20 and 28 pounds, he’s at the large end of small, but he’s a good representative of a small herding breed. The Mudi is an old Hungarian breed, developed to work sheep and cattle. guard the house, and exterminate vermin. He was renowned for working difficult cattle. Today the easily-trained Mudi needs focused activity such as herding, tracking, agility, or sports such as flyball. He won’t flourish living as a couch-potato. He’s an affectionate dynamo, and will pursue any task, activity, or job with vigor. Most Mudi do well with children if raised with them, and tolerate other animals relatively well (with the exception of some Mudi pushy-ness!). The breed is typically vocal about newcomers; they were developed, after all, to alert larger guardian dogs of predators.
  6. Seidenspitzwas: developed in Germany by mixing Maltese and Pomeranians. Loving, affectionate, biddable, and bright, the Seidenspitz’s silky coat makes for cozy cuddling. Sweet with seniors, generally tolerant of respectful children, and friendly with other animals, the Seidenspitz’s pint size (weighing a mere 3 to 7 pounds) makes him easily transportable too. He appreciates walks and playtimes, but he’s small enough to wear out playing indoors, a nice trait for apartment dwellers, or for any of us on cold or rainy days! The only problematical issue may be finding one to add to your family; they’re relatively uncommon.
  7. Biewer Terrier weighs between 4 to 8 pounds and has a pleasing, sweet temperament. Long coats can be kept long or trimmed for ease of care. Bred from Yorkshire Terriers in Germany by Werner and Gertrude Biewer, the breed is being developed for a tri-color coat, a pleasing disposition, and certainly not traditional Terrier purposes (that’s code for a Biewer loves activity and a playful hunt, but he isn’t inclined to work long hours in your barn killing rats!). A young breed, the Biewer is emerging as anintelligent and devoted companion; celebrated for his fun, childlike attitude. Most do okay with other animals if socialized early. Their mild, sweet temperament facilitates training, as well as activities such as therapy work.
  8. Russkiy Toy: (Russian Toy) weighs a mere 3 to 6 pounds. The breed evolved from the English Toy Terrier, popular with the aristocracy of Russia, who often carried the dogs as living accessories. With the communist revolution, the breeding of dogs for companionship slowed, but a handful of breeders kept the Russian Toy alive, and it reappeared in a slightly different form after the communist era. Today the Russian Toy may be shy with strangers and certainly willing to bark upon their arrival, but dedicated to family. Originally developed from feisty rat-chasing Terriers, the Russian Toy is alert and spunky, yet companionable and playful. Just don’t expect him to play nice with your hamsters.
  9. Kromfohrlander: Weighing about 22 to 28 pounds, the Kromi craves human interaction and fun. Athletic and spirited, he can excel in activities such as obedience, agility, or canine freestyle. The Kromi was bred down from a WWII military mascot, a scruffy farm dog named Peter. Further bred with Terriers and Griffons in Germany, the Kromi was developed into into two varieties: rough and smooth coated. Intuitive, adaptable, and generally good with children and other pets when socialized, the only “problem” with a Kromi is that they’re a very new, rare, hard-to-find breed. But at least now you know who they are!
  10. Cesky Terrier: Let’s finish off our list with the Cesky Terrier, a family-loving hunting dog developed in Czechoslovakia by Frantisek Horak. The Cesky was bred to be a sturdy, short-legged sporting dog with an easy-to-clean coat, so he could transition into the house at the end of the hunt to join the family. Weighing about 13 to 22 pounds, the Cesky is calm and loving with the family, generally including children. Developed for less scrappiness, the Cesky tends to tolerate (even actually enjoy!) other dogs more than most Terriers. They do bark when strangers approach, but that’s about the end of their guard dog behavior; they warm up rather quickly to newcomers.


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